Baseball: Silver Creek’s Spencer Rich named player of the year

Senior paced Raptors to runner-up finish with unique combination of power, speed and defense

Brad Cochi/
Silver Creek’s Spencer Rich stole 30 bases in addition to leading his team in runs scored and home runs, leading him to the 2019 player of the year honor.

LONGMONT – The Raptors may have fallen just short of their first baseball state title, but the spring of 2019 was without a doubt the most successful season in the Silver Creek baseball program’s history.

The Raptors won 27 games, the most they’ve managed by several. They reached the Class 4A state tournament, advancing all the way to the championship game. Right in the middle of Silver Creek’s run was Spencer Rich.

Whether it was launching a home run, stealing a base or running down a long fly ball in center field, the senior was the engine that drove the Raptors to new heights. For that, Rich is the 2019 baseball player of the year.

“It was just the final year playing with the guys that I’ve been playing with since I was about 10,” Rich said. “And playing with my brother was awesome. I just wanted to be a leader on this team and play hard every play. Every time I went up to the plate or took the field, I wanted to do damage and make plays like everyone else.”

The 4A state runners-up had plenty of good players but Rich brought to the table a combination of power and speed that couldn’t be matched by any Raptor, or any other player in the area for that matter.

In 2019, Rich posted a .477/.516/.871 slash line and an OPS of 1.388. He had 52 hits in 109 at-bats including eight doubles, seven triples and seven home runs. He drove in 36 runs and scored a team-high 45, and stole 30 bases while playing excellent defense in center field.

The Raptors (27-4) weren’t ranked in the top 10 of the poll to begin the season but steadily climbed their way toward the top as the campaign progressed. Even with a first-year head coach in Brad Steward, they reached the final day of the state tournament before losing twice to Pueblo West.

“Stu did a great job coming in and not being ranked, we weren’t really worried about that,” Rich said. “We knew we had the talent and the work ethic, and we knew that if we just kept our heads straight and had fun, we’d be right there at the end.”

From Steward’s point of view, much of the Raptors’ success revolved around Rich’s versatile performance.

“He brought great leadership,” Steward said. “He was committed to our offseason workout plan and he gave us a calming feeling, especially with some new coaches and everyone adjusting to each other. With him in center, you see a fly ball go up and you just get used to it being caught. And with him in our lineup, he completed our roster because you knew he could hit a ball over the fence or drop a bunt down and then steal a couple bases.

“You get a Spencer type of player every 10 years. He’s a five-tool guy.”

Rich will play baseball at Daytona State College next year. From there, he plans to keep his dream of playing baseball alive as long as possible.

“I’m gonna play until they take my cleats away,” Rich said.